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U.S. missile shield to boost Polish Czech ties -Vaclav Klaus

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WARSAW, May 22 (RIA Novosti) - A U.S. missile defense system in Europe will strengthen Polish-Czech ties, the Czech president said Tuesday.

The U.S. announced plans in January to deploy interceptor missiles in Poland, and a missile defense radar in the Czech Republic as part of its missile shield aimed at countering possible threats from "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea.

Vaclav Klaus met with his Polish counterpart near Prague to discuss the U.S. missile shield, saying it will advance bilateral contacts.

"This is yet another reason for playing together, not against each other," he said.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski said he will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush to discuss the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland in June and July, while consultations with Vaclav Klaus and the Czech government will continue.

"Poland is in complete accord with the Czech Republic in this respect," he said.

Moscow has repeatedly condemned the plan, claiming that it could be a "destabilizing factor" and a threat to Russia's national security, and warned that "appropriate measures" would be taken in response.

Russia's foreign minister said earlier Tuesday the U.S.'s unilateral decision to deploy elements of a national defense system in Central and Eastern European countries jeopardizes Russia, as well as the whole of Europe.

Sergei Lavrov said Moscow has never objected to joint defense against any threat as long as these efforts are collective and the threats real.

"Therefore any unilateral steps, especially those taken in haste, are effectively setting the stage for a new division of Europe," he said.

NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said earlier Tuesday the organization will create its own missile defense system, which would be linked to the American system.

Australia said it had joined the U.S. and Japanese missile defense plans and would consider the deployment of a missile shield on its own soil.

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